Having Fun with Your Guinea Pig
By: Talia Starkey
Read By: Pet Lovers
Having fun with your guinea pig means indulging him in some of his favorite pastimes, like eating, exploration, and exercise. If you take stock of your guinea pig's natural behavior and preferences, you can come up with new toys and activities that will enrich his life and enhance your experience as a pet owner.
Sharing food with your guinea pig can be a great way to get to know each other better. Healthy snacks, especially fruits high in vitamin C, are good for both you and your pet guinea pig. Sitting on the ground or in a chair, place your guinea pig in your lap and give him a piece of fruit, like an orange slice with the rind still on it, or a small piece of your apple. Be careful to keep your fingers away from his sharp incisor teeth so that he doesn't accidentally bite you when he takes the treat. You can put a towel in your lap if you're worried about your guinea pig dribbling food on your clothes.
Rearranging The Cage
Rearranging your guinea pig's cage and adding new play objects can be fun for both of you. Think of the basic guinea pig enclosure, equipped with soft bedding, water bottle and food dishes, as only a starting point. Keeping in mind that your guinea pig needs ample floor space to run around, you can add cage extras like rocks, bricks, clay flowerpots and fruit tree branches to his cage. Four-inch diameter PVC pipes are also a big hit, and many owners like to buy pipe fittings with elbow or "T" joints for variety.
Enjoy watching your guinea pig explore. He's wearing down his toenails and exercising while he investigates the new setup. Some guinea pigs like bird toys with mirrors or balls with bells inside of them. Just make sure that all objects you put in the cage can withstand a little chewing.
Avoid Rodent Wheels
Don't give your guinea pig a rodent wheel to run in - though wheel manufacturers may claim the wheel is safe, your guinea pig's body is ill-suited for this kind of exercise.
A guinea pig's eyes are situated on the sides of his head instead of resting close together in front like human eyes. This means that guinea pigs have strong peripheral vision but may be bad at judging distances or heights. Since depth perception is a problem for guinea pigs, don't stack play items like bricks or branches more than nine inches off the ground. Your guinea pig may be able to climb a structure higher than that, but he will likely have problems getting down safely. A fall can mean broken bones or internal injuries that could prove fatal for your pet.
Keep your guinea pig's trouble with heights in mind when you handle him outside of his cage. You should hold him securely against your chest, supporting his hind end with one hand and holding the other hand cupped over his back.
Many owners claim that their guinea pigs do well with other pet animals, like cats and dogs. If you would like to introduce your guinea pig to your other pets, always supervise their interaction. Never leave your guinea pig unattended in a room with another animal, no matter how well the two seem to get along when you are with them. Remember that guinea pigs startle easily and always make sure that your pet has a place to hide if something scares him while you are spending time together.